Designing appointment scheduling systems for ambulatory care services

Health Care Manag Sci. 2006 Feb;9(1):47-58. doi: 10.1007/s10729-006-6279-5.


The current climate in the health care industry demands efficiency and patient satisfaction in medical care delivery. These two demands intersect in scheduling of ambulatory care visits. This paper uses patient and doctor-related measures to assess ambulatory care performance and investigates the interactions among appointment system elements and patient panel characteristics. Analysis methodology involves simulation modeling of clinic sessions where empirical data forms the basis of model design and assumptions. Results indicate that patient sequencing has a greater effect on ambulatory care performance than the choice of an appointment rule, and that panel characteristics such as walk-ins, no-shows, punctuality and overall session volume, influence the effectiveness of appointment systems.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Ambulatory Care Facilities / organization & administration*
  • Appointments and Schedules*
  • Health Care Surveys
  • Humans
  • Models, Theoretical*
  • Patient Satisfaction
  • Physician-Patient Relations
  • Time Factors